2012-06-20 / Features

1988

Museum Dedicated To Film, TV History Was First Of Its Kind

fter seven years of planning, the Queens Gazette announced the opening of the American Museum of the Moving Image (AMMI). The first museum in the nation devoted to the art, history and technology of film, television and video opened its doors on Sep. 10, 1988. Built at a cost of $15 million, the museum was expected to receive 250,000 visitors its inaugural year.

AMMI planned more than 700 film and video screenings annually in two state-of-the-art theaters, changing exhibits and daily education programs.

The museum’s three-story building is listed on the Register of Historic Places. The first two floors opened immediately with the third floor exhibition the following year.

The museum began as the Astoria Motion Picture and Television Foundation that was established in 1977 to save the Astoria Studios complex, located one block down, from demolition. The facility opened in 1920 as the East Coast sound stage and back lot for Paramount Studios and was host to legendary stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Claudette Colbert, Gloria Swanson and the Marx Brothers. From 1941 until 1972 the studios were used by the U.S. Army Signal Corps and known as the Army Pictorial Center.

Rochelle Slovin, the executive director of the Astoria Motion Picture and Television Foundation, proposed the idea for a museum. Slovin would go on to become the AMMI’s executive director.

In January 2011, after a three-year renovation and expansion at a cost of $65 million, the venue doubled in size from 50,000 to 97,700-square feet. Designed by Leeser Architecture, the facility is now known as the Museum of the Moving Image. The city owned facility paid $55 million out of the total cost.

Slovin retired in February 2011 and was replaced by Carl Goodman that March. –Jason D. Antos

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